Mauve stinger (Pelagia noctiluca)

Distribution data supplied by the Ocean Biodiversity Information System (OBIS). To interrogate UK data visit the NBN Atlas.Map Help



Pelagia noctiluca may grow to 10 cm in diameter. The medusa colour varies from pale red to mauve-brown or purple and the exumbrella surface is covered in pink or mauve nematocyst-bearing warts. The mushroom shaped, deep bell has 16 marginal lobes, eight marginal sense organs and eight, hair-like marginal tentacles. These thin tentacles may extend as far as 3 m. All tentacles on Pelagia noctiluca are covered in nematocysts. The manubrium bears four thick, frilled oral arms. This species has no sessile stage and the adults release juvenile medusae in the autumn.

Recorded distribution in Britain and Ireland

Pelagia noctiluca is an uncommon jellyfish around the British Isles but may be found anywhere over deep water off the west and north coasts (Russell, 1970).

Global distribution



Pelagia noctiluca is an oceanic species widely distributed in warm and temperate waters.

Depth range


Identifying features

  • Mushroom shaped bell.
  • Exumbrella and tentacles are covered in pink or mauve nematocysts.
  • 16 marginal lobes
  • 8 marginal sense organs
  • 8 hair-like marginal tentacles.

Additional information

Pelagia noctiluca feed mainly on pelagic ascidians and other small jellyfish (Hayward et al., 1996).

Although the sting of Pelagia noctiluca is potent and painful, it is limited in time and extent (Williamson et al., 1996).

Listed by

- none -


  1. Crothers, J.H. (ed.), 1966. Dale Fort Marine Fauna. London: Field Studies Council.

  2. Fish, J.D. & Fish, S., 1996. A student's guide to the seashore. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

  3. Hayward, P., Nelson-Smith, T. & Shields, C. 1996. Collins pocket guide. Sea shore of Britain and northern Europe. London: HarperCollins.

  4. Howson, C.M. & Picton, B.E., 1997. The species directory of the marine fauna and flora of the British Isles and surrounding seas. Belfast: Ulster Museum. [Ulster Museum publication, no. 276.]

  5. Williamson, J.A., Fenner, P.J., Burnett, J.W. & Rifkin, J.F., 1996. Venomous and poisonous marine animals: a medical and biological handbook. Sydney: University of New South Wales Press.


  1. Centre for Environmental Data and Recording, 2018. Ulster Museum Marine Surveys of Northern Ireland Coastal Waters. Occurrence dataset accessed via on 2018-09-25.

  2. Fenwick, 2018. Aphotomarine. Occurrence dataset Accessed via on 2018-10-01

  3. Marine Conservation Society, 2018. UK Jellyfish Sightings from 2003 to 2015. Occurrence dataset: accessed via on 2018-10-01.

  4. National Trust, 2017. National Trust Species Records. Occurrence dataset: accessed via on 2018-10-01.

  5. NBN (National Biodiversity Network) Atlas. Available from:

  6. OBIS (Ocean Biodiversity Information System),  2024. Global map of species distribution using gridded data. Available from: Ocean Biogeographic Information System. Accessed: 2024-06-12

  7. Outer Hebrides Biological Recording, 2018. Invertebrates (except insects), Outer Hebrides. Occurrence dataset: accessed via on 2018-10-01.


This review can be cited as:

Heard, J.R. 2008. Pelagia noctiluca Mauve stinger. In Tyler-Walters H. and Hiscock K. Marine Life Information Network: Biology and Sensitivity Key Information Reviews, [on-line]. Plymouth: Marine Biological Association of the United Kingdom. [cited 12-06-2024]. Available from:

Last Updated: 24/04/2008